North Sea oil workers have begun the “biggest offshore stoppage in a generation”, with 48-hour strikes that could see dozens of oil and gas platforms “brought to a standstill,” according to Unite.
The trade union has revealed 1300 workers, including technicians, deck crew, crane operators, and riggers, are walking out, posing a challenge for multi-billion oil industry operators, including BP, Harbour Energy, and Shell.
Unite industrial officer Boland stressed the strikes are “not exclusively about pay but also working rotas, holidays, and offshore safety.”
He also confirmed to City A.M. they would be going ahead with no eleventh-hour compromises on the table.
Boland said: “Nothing has changed, the strikes go ahead as planned. An army of 1300 workers will take part in the biggest offshore stoppage in a generation. The 48-hour strike action will cause severe problems for contractors and operators.”
North Sea industry sources have denied Unite’s claims over the significance of the strikes.
They have played down the effect of the strikes on operations, with over 30,000 workers employed in the industry – many of which are not involved in unions.
This includes 11,500 working on oil and gas rigs, according to UK Oil and Gas data.
As it stands, the majority of the strikers, around 700, are employed by Bilfinger UK and are demanding a pay rise.
Meanwhile, 350 construction workers at Stork Technical Services are also taking part, alongside 200 from Sparrows Offshore Services, and just short of 50 from Petrofac Facilities Management.
A Bilfinger UK spokesperson said, “Operational safety remains our top priority and we have procedures in place to minimise any potential disruption.”
A Petrofac spokesperson told City A.M., “As a service provider committed to long-term commercial frameworks Petrofac has limited control over changes to contractual arrangements.
“While strike action affects less than 50 of our North Sea colleagues, we remain committed to resolving this dispute through constructive dialogue, whilst ensuring no increased risk to personnel or the environment during industrial action.”
The oil and gas industry has seen multibillion profits and hyper executive bonuses announced over the last few months. Bilfinger generated £3.8bn revenues in the last financial year.
Further strikes could be ahead, with ballots ongoing for offshore workers employed by TotalEnergies.
Harbour Energy refused to comment.
All other companies involved have been approached for comment.